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An Ugly Week In My Wireless And Mobile Broadband Worlds

Wake me up when March is over, will ya? Of late, I'm getting a wee bit exhausted from dealing with the unpretty side of my chosen vocation. Yes, wireless of all sorts is cool and sexy. Not everyone really "gets" the magic behind devices that combine radios with networking protocols, and it's a wonderful fraternity to be in for those of us who do.

The proliferation of all sorts of crazy new Wi-Fi and mobile devices means that every day is a new adventure for those in the network game. But adventures aren't always of the preferred kind, and even though the mobile world is being consumerized, the complexity that makes it work doesn't get any simpler. (Shut up, cloud people.) There are still rough edges lurking just below the network surface, and when those rough edges get exposed, a growing base of mobile users means that there is more confusion and frustration to go around. This means that those of us considered wireless professionals are often left holding the bag. Let's talk about some of the imperfections that accompany the amazing world of wireless, and see if any of these sound familiar.

I recently found myself at a remote site, doing some crisis management for an executive team who perceived that network problems were hindering their productivity. After gathering what information I could, I caught a plane and soon dug into diagnosing the very same network that I myself installed a few years back. Since many of the reported problems seemed to focus on the iPad, I made sure I had one along with my trusted AirMagnet analyzer software, Cisco Spectrum Expert card and a goodly mix of test devices.

Since no one was immediately available to work with directly, I canvassed the facility, checking various locations and finding no issues. No issues, that is, until I pulled out the iPad and attempted to do a throughput test to one of my own servers. Can you say "no Java support"? Grr. But that got me thinking--what about my beloved Droid? Again, grr. Two of the hottest devices on the planet can't do a simple speed test, using one of the most common Web applications in existence. Lovely.

In reality, there are many speed test utilities out there, as well as some darn nice apps for throughput testing. But they are not on my preferred server on my own network, and now I'm scrambling to find another utility I can run locally for portable devices.

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